Alan Blayney is not surprised that Linfield are flexing their muscles again this season, though the Blues' frustrations on the trophy-winning front leaves him baffled.
The Ballymena United stopper won three Irish League titles and three Irish Cups at Linfield but in recent seasons the Windsor Park faithful have had little to cheer about.
A County Antrim Shield triumph in March 2014 - David Jeffrey's final trophy as Blues boss - was their last success while the Gibson Cup and Irish Cup have eluded the Premiership giants since 2012.
The Sky Blues were dumped out of the Irish Cup by Linfield on Saturday but Blayney is hoping for swift revenge tonight.
"I'm not surprised at all that Linfield have come through that rough period they had in the league," said Blayney.
"David Healy's record in the game speaks for itself and with his experience and the quality in his squad I expected Linfield to come out fighting.
"They were not going to be knocked down for long.
"Linfield's inability to win the Irish Cup or league title in three years does surprise me, it's a bit alien to the club and they will be going all out to win a trophy by beating us.
"But we will be up for this game and anyone who needs motivated for this final should not be playing football.
"I've never won the Shield so it would be a special feeling and great moment for United.
"I played in one final with Linfield but Glentoran beat us.
"Windsor Park is a tough place to go and get a result but we are looking forward to it and are going out to win it.
"There is no point in going there to make up the numbers. You never know how many chances you get to win trophies and you have to take them."
I'll put my cards on the table and say I cannot see Ballymena United stopping the Linfield juggernaut. We might have been saying something different six weeks ago, but the force is with the Blues and that momentum should carry them over the line in tonight's County Antrim Shield final.